Sunday, July 31, 2011

Dismissals (2011-07-31)

This is my homily for Sunday, 31 July 2011. I am a Catholic chaplain at Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) campus and for the FDU Newman Catholic Association. We celebrate Catholic Mass - during Fall and Spring semester - every Sunday Mass (7:30 p.m.) at the Interfaith Chapel, 842 River Road, Teaneck, NJ. We resume our Sunday schedule on Sunday August 28, 2011 at 7:30 p.m.

[ Isaiah 55:1-3 | Psalm __ | Romans 8:35, 37-39 | Matthew 14:13-21 ]

[__01 ___] In the Gospel this Sunday, we read about a large crowd which has been following Jesus. And, this group is so large and numerous, that their physical hunger exceeds what the disciples have in store.

And, Jesus is asked to make an announcement… please dismiss the crowd, send home this group of over 5k people.

We read in the Gospel of Matthew, this Sunday, that the disciples ask Jesus to send away – to DISMISS – this lage crowd of over 5K (thousand) people.

[__02 ___] On the other hand, St. Paul – in our second reading from the Letter to the Romans, chapter 8 – writes that even famine – severe hunger – will not send us home…. – or as he writes – this famine will not separate us from the love of Christ. (Romans 8:__)

There is a hungry multitude of people in the Gospel, a crowd which is the earliest Christian community, the Church.

There is still a hungry multitude – and we are part of this group, this gathering. We are hungry.

[__03 ___] When we are hungry, where do we go? What is our preferred destination? Location?
And, would we prefer to be there – among others…in community ..or alone?

[__04 ___] In this encounter between the Jesus and this community, the gathering might be called off due to hunger. Hunger is the reason for them to be sent home, dismissed as individuals or as small units/groups.

In this miracle, the Lord invites his disciples and the crowd to stay with him.
At first the disciples are anxious about this; we are burning precious calories, becoming more hungry, empty.

The fear of the disciples: there will not be enough to go around.

[__05 ___] From time to time, we may come to the Lord in prayer, hoping for a dismissal. At the least, at 3 or 4 or 5 in the afternoon, do we not sometimes, pray for our work day – or school day – to be over? Or, in the second half of a game that is going on and on, don’t we pray for the whistle or final buzzer?
We too are hungry. Hunger makes us want to separate… to be dismissed.

[__06___] On the other hand, we may also pray that others will be dismissed.
that is, please, Lord, dismiss from my life the person whose …
• Needs exceed what I can give
• Whom I do not understand
• Who insults me and persecutes me and utters every kind of slander against me.
Dismissal, at times, EQUALS satisfaction.

Jesus invites, however, to stay for a different type of satisfaction.

He does not want us to isolate ourselves due to fear or hunger…or even the
sinfulness of ourselves or others.

Do we want to be sent home?

The Good News is that the Lord invites us to sit on the grass – that as in Psalm 23 – he leads us to green pastures where he gives us repose.
Jesus invites us to stay with him.

[__08___] And, he multiplies the food we have, the talents we have, the intelligence we have…the love and charity we have – for our good and that of the whole community, the whole Church, for all 5 thousand, for you and me.

[__fin ___]

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Auction Prices (2011-07-24)

[__01 ___] In this Sunday’s Gospel, we read about ACQUISITION …and the price of making the ACQUISITION.

There is treasure for sale to be acquired. The examples given in the parables are the “pearl of great price” and the “hidden treasure in the field.”

These 2 treasures are symbols of the Gospel, of the Commandments, of the Good News.

And, at times, following Christ – loving as he has loved us – can cost us something. In the parables, the buyer liquidates – cashes in – all of his assets to buy the treasure.

In other word, the buyer does not only acquire one new object but also renounces all of his existing possessions.

Would you and I be willing do the same?

[__02 ___] The buying and selling of material treasure is an example. How does the price get to be so high … so inflated?

Well, imagine that these items – these treasures – were being sold at an auction – at Christie’s auction house in New York on Ebay, online, on the internet.

At Christie’s or on E-bay, the property is awarded to the highest bidder. If one person (or any number of persons) were willing to pay a higher price for what I want, then I would have to pay just as much or more.

Such is the bidding process for precious stones, paintings, and other things.

[__03 ___] What about the buying and selling of spiritual treasure, of the Gospel?
Can I buy the Gospel. Of course, you and I can buy religious articles, books …but to own the Gospel, this is going to cost even more.

But, this is something that we have begun to live each day…


[Marriage ] Isn’t it true of a married couple, bride and groom, husband and wife that they promise to give everything to each other?
They are not simply receiving (acquiring) one another. Rather, their promise (vow) is also a renunciation of all others.

[Family/Parenting ] This is also true of mothers and fathers who welcome and raise their children.

And, for individuals who care for loved ones who may be ill, or terminally ill.
[School/Team ] The same is true in school, We don’t just acquire knowledge but we also RENOUNCE – give up other things in order to get it. Isn’t this true of athletes on teams… they make sacrifices for the team…

And, in school and at home, we need classmates and teammates who are examples of a good work ethic… those who will help us attain our potential.

This keeps the auction price high.

[__04 __] However, does everybody make these sacrifices?

Jesus, for example, points out that the Pharisees are into outward religious show – They appear to be making sacrifices but are really seeking discount.

And, I think we sometimes can see this in others – we see – at times those who are not willing to pay very much attention to the commandments, to the Gospel. They are not willing to do the right thing.

This can make life seem easier… as the “price of true love & sacrifice” seems to decrease.

[__05 __] In these parables, Jesus is asking us not to be taken in by these apparently low-price alternatives…

Yes, the Gospel is at times, costly. But, he has made the first payment for our lives, for our salvation…

As Paul also writes…”you were bought with a price.”

By his life, death, and resurrection, Jesus buys our salvation. And, he is asking us to make a similar payment in our sacrifices for others.

This is the pearl of great price.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Rivals in the Field (2011-07-17)

This is my homily for Sunday, 17 July 2011. I am a Catholic chaplain at Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) campus and for the FDU Newman Catholic Association. We celebrate Catholic Mass - during Fall and Spring semester - every Sunday Mass (7:30 p.m.) at the Interfaith Chapel, 842 River Road, Teaneck, NJ. We resume our Sunday schedule on Sunday August 28, 2011 at 7:30 p.m.

[__01 ___] Sometimes, one group decides that its destiny/future is completely independent of another group.

Doesn’t this happen in a rivalry, a competition? Such is the nature of competition…

And, such exclusion and rivalry exists in religion – politics – sports…
• Sunni Muslim and Shiite Muslim Iraq
• Religious sectarianism within Christianity
• Republican vs. Democrat
• LAST YEAR …the men’s World Cup final between Holland + Spain
• TODAY … the women’s World Cup final between the U.S. + Japan.

[__02 ___] In the parable we have just heard, the Lord speaks about the weeds and the wheat which exclude each other … which crowd each other out.
They are competing for the same water, the same soil, the same sunlight … all in the same location.

Or, to borrow from the NFL (National Football League) -- in which the 2011 season may be cancelled due to disagreement between players and owners – the weeds and the wheat “lock each other out.”

But, what are the weeds and the wheat in our lives?

This parable is not really about cultural, geographic, or political boundaries.
Rather, the parable is about the boundary – rivalry – brokenness – difficulty between …

• “Fill in the blank….”
• Brother-in-law (& me …)
• My cousin (& me…)
• My Boss (& me…)
• Co-worker
• Classmate
• Divisions within my family

When our enemies are very far away in another COUNTY … or CONTINENT, they may seem much easier to manage.

However, if they are here – either physically in my backyard, neighborhood, or life. Or, mentally, inside my head … would it not be better to uproot them… to conquer them … … or run away from them?

That’s what we normally do with enemies - DELETE … DEFEAT …DEPART…. So, if we cannot eliminate (delete) them, we fight or flee.

Those are not the options in this parable.

Why … ?

And, why does Jesus suggest not uprooting …not DELETING or DEFEATING these adversaries…individuals who cause us difficulty right away?

By enduring – by persevering – we can learn 2 things...both HUMILITY and …. CONFIDENCE .

The Good News when our adversaries – those who cause us difficulty are also close to us…

[__03 (a)___] HUMILITY - The sin which I see in others might be my own. Jesus has given us the example of the splinter and wooden beam which might be in my eye or that of another…
The Lord asks, for example, why do we say…

“Brother, let me pull the mote out of thy eye, when thou thyself seest not the beam in thy own eye? Hypocrite, cast first the beam out of thy own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to take out the mote from thy brother's eye.” (Luke 6:42)

[__03 (b) ___] CONFIDENCE
Speak to … develop a 1-on-1 relationship even with those ..with whom we have a difficulty…

the Good News of FORGIVENESS --- we learn to love each other more by understanding ourselves and others as sinners in need of redemption.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says in 2 places, make friends with your accusers … make friends with the person who has something against you. Don’t just come to the church or the synagogue and expect God to forgive and reconcile you… Rather, go first and be reconciled with those who have hurt you… or those you have hurt.

This parable offers us a message about both

[__04 ___] This is facilitated by the weeds and the wheat growing together, even in our own homes… community…

The Lord our God is well aware that some people – and some tribes – do not get along well.

But, somehow, this difficulty is part of his overall plan. God does not encourage evil, this wickedness, but permits it. We might learn from it.

It reminds all of us to turn to him for help and that we might get the very best out of the soil in which we are currently planted.

[__baptism__] Coming here today is this family (_) for the baptism of their children. They are well aware that the world is a complex place where people do not always get along. And, they come here because they want their home to be a sanctuary – just as the church is a sanctuary – of God’s love and peace.

As children, we are taught – are we not the importance – of being generous, of being forgiving… of admitting when we are wrong.

We are taught about the sincere apology, the sincere act of contrition and sorrow toward another to say…I am sorry.

True love does then mean that we are coexisting not with those to whom we never have to say I am sorry… but rather with those who need God’s saving help and grace as much as I do.

The wheat and the weeds grow together. We really do need each other on our journey to salvation. [__FIN__]

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Parable of the Sower (2011-07-10)

This is my homily for Sunday, 10 July 2011. I am a Catholic chaplain at Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) campus and for the FDU Newman Catholic Association. We celebrate Catholic Mass - during Fall and Spring semester - every Sunday Mass (7:30 p.m.) at the Interfaith Chapel, 842 River Road, Teaneck, NJ. We resume our Sunday schedule on Sunday August 28, 2011 at 7:30 p.m.

14th Sunday ordinary time (year A)
[ Isaiah 55:10-11 | Psalm 65 | Romans 8:18-23 | Matthew 13:1-23 ]

[__01___] In this parable, the path – or the road – is one of the four destinies or destinations for the seed or grain.
Some seeds fall along the path. However, this is a place where the seed lacks security, protection in order to grow. The middle of the street (road) is a hazardous place.

[__02___] Clearly, there is a difference between the seed on the path and the seed on the good soil.
What is the difference …?

[__03___] What separates the path from the good soil?
One scholar observes that the path is -- very close to / very near -- the good soil.

We might tend to think of the path as the highway, or the Interstate outside the field. In fact, the path is within the field. One scholar observes that this path – in the parable – runs between the rows of good soil. This is where the sower has been walking, the sower who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

[__04___] The disciples, in the Gospel are often invited away from the regular path , to someplace new.

[__05___] The disciples themselves – Peter, James, John and the rest – are called in this way. On the night before he dies, the night before the Passion, Christ takes his 12 apostles to the Garden of Gethsemane, and, so to say, PLANTS them in the earth, in the soil of the garden.

He plants Peter, James, John and the rest there -- in the earth -- so that they might stay awake and pray.

Then, Christ himself kneels to pray and, later, returns to check on his ¨farm¨ and plants… They have fallen asleep.

Sometimes, even under the best conditions, we do not always grow.

However, by coming to the Garden, the apostles begin to seek the good soil, for which we also come to pray and to Sunday Mass.

The apostles step off their regular path and become an example to us.
We also do the same, turning to God at Sunday Mass and in our prayer.

[__06___] Growth and change, for us, often requires a new path and a new place.
Consider , for example, our young people, our children in school.
Each year, brothers and sisters, you have to step away from that which is familiar. That is, in school, you receive a new teacher, new subjects, new rules, new classmates.

And, often, we think this CHANGE – ALTERATION is designed to make the learning process as difficult as possible.

However, we also realize we need change - and the right conditions – in order to grow.

[__07___] Are there not people in our lives who also challenge us to grow and change?

Some difficult individuals are not easy to love.

These individuals may throw us off our path.

We might consider the message of this parable when we are knocked to the ground.

That is, do I really have no hope of rising to my feet?

Or, am I simply off the path …and buried in the good soil.

In our genuine efforts to love as Christ loved, to pray as he prayed, to give ourselves to each other, we sometimes have to surrender the familiar and the known…

Doing so, we can find ourselves in the best soil.

Also, we discover that the best soil may not be so far away. The best soil may be simply to love, care, sacrifice for someone – or in some way – that is already a part of my life. In other words, for a family member, a classmate, a friend.

This gradual change takes us off the path and into the good rows of soil between the path.

And, this invites us to work for a new harvest in which we can discover the seed and hear God´s word, 30 times, 60 times, or 100 times over. [__fin ___]

Burdens (2011-07-03)

This is my homily for Sunday, 3 July 2011. I am a Catholic chaplain at Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) campus and for the FDU Newman Catholic Association. We celebrate Catholic Mass - during Fall and Spring semester - every Sunday Mass (7:30 p.m.) at the Interfaith Chapel, 842 River Road, Teaneck, NJ. We resume our Sunday schedule on Sunday August 28, 2011 at 7:30 p.m.

14th Sunday ordinary time (year A)
[ Zecariah 9:9-10 | Psalm 145 | Romans 8:9, 11-13 | Matthew 11:25-30 ]

[__01___] Do we carry our burdens alone?

The Good News of the Gospel, from our Lord, is that he comes to help us with our burdens, physical, emotional.

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened..¨ (Matthew 11:28)

He is our companion, brother, friend.

Jesus helps us watch over our belongings. Why?

Is this only because this is a holiday weekend, Fourth of July, many travelers?
For what purpose is he watching…

Yes, it is true that God does not desire the loss or theft of our belongings.
However, his watchfulness is not only deter theft and detain thieves. Rather, Christ is born among us to remind us who we are and what we have.

[__02___] At the airport – and other public places – we hear announcements over loudspeakers.

¨Do not leave your bags unattended, they may be removed for security purposes.¨
How could we apply this advice about SECURE TRAVEL …to our SPIRITUAL JOURNEY?

[__03___] Be aware of what you have (do not leave your belongings unattended). This is not only about suitcases. It is also about family members younger and older, talents, gifts, intelligence.

We are being asked … how will we spend our free time this summer? With whom will we spend our time?

Keep an eye on what you (I) possess rather than gazing on the valuables of others.

[__04___] All of us are tempted to compare ourselves with others, to wonder what valuables the other person – or person in First Class – may possess.

However, this could be a distraction, an unncesssary distraction even danger?

Am I jealous? Do I judge others? Do I focus on others so much …that I do things only to be popular? To be approved?

Doing so, I may leave my valuables unattended.

[__05___] St. Augustine puts it this way…
In the context of sinfulness and repentance ..and honesty about ourselves.
Saint Augustine puts this in the context of sinfulness and repentance.
To re-state this advice, Augustine is saying that the “lost” traveler is not one who is delayed or has missed a flight. The “lost” traveler is the one who is paying attention only to the other people ….

• In the airport
• In the classroom

This is the person not yet ready to take ownership of his bags, leaving them unattended and paying excessive attention to others.

St. Augustine puts it this way exactly … sometimes… “men are hopeless creatures ..and the less they concentrate on their own sins [baggage], the more they become interested in the sins of others. They seek to criticize …they are ready to accuse others…”

[__06___] Jesus the Lord is our companion who reminds not to be distracted by the valuables – or the failings – of others.

[__07___] During journeys, travels, we may not only have to attend to our belongings.

We may also be asked to open them…

Every day, in our journey of conversion, the Lord is inviting us to open up to him, in prayer. He also would like to consider ..what we have and what we are carrying.
So, that in prayer, we may also put these gifts before him.

Yes, our sorrows are burdensome.

He also wants to know what we value … and what is valuable.
• our intelligence.
• our talents
• our time

By the way, it may seem that others go through the security checkpoints of life much more easily and quickly than we do. Our journey may seem slower.

Perhaps, we may even be slowed down, by NOT focusing on others so much.

In other words, by avoiding jealousy, bitterness … we may actually slow down.

By avoiding doing things which are simply easy or popular … we may find ourselves towards the back of the line.

Our journey may seem more difficult.

We believe that Christ is here to help us with these burdens …the that in Christ the yoke is easy and burden light. [__END___]